Deaths in Washington state due to the coronavirus grew to 81 Friday while the number of confirmed cases has risen to 1,512.
One of the latest victims was a widowed mother of six who was a Stage 4 breast cancer survivor. She leaves behind children ranging in age from 13 to 24. Media reported that friends have started a GoFundMe page for the family as the woman’s cancer treatments left them with very little money.
Gov. Jay Inslee ordered an end to all elective surgery and dental procedures, noting that he wants to make sure medical workers dealing with the pandemic have enough resources.
“We know the health care personal protective equipment supply chain in Washington has been severely disrupted by the significant increased use of such equipment worldwide,” he said in a statement. “We will do all we can to protect the women and men who protect us.”
The ban includes things such as joint replacements, cataract surgery, cosmetic procedures and non-urgent cardiac surgery. Inslee did say, however, that banned operations could be done if the delay would worsen and endanger a patient’s condition.
One of the most serious shortages not just in Washington but around the world is a lack of ventilators. Coronavirus can cause breathing difficulties and can be especially hard on people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, often referred to as COPD.
A company near Seattle called Ventec, which has been making ventilators for 12 years, said it has increased production from 150 units a month to 1,500, adding shift around the clock and looking to hire up to 150 people.
Inslee has taken several other steps this week in dealing with the outbreak, including calling for non-essential businesses to shut down, closing all K-12 schools through at least April 24 and putting a 30-day moratorium on evictions statewide. Restaurants, bars, theaters, fitness clubs and recreational facilities were ordered to close last Monday for at least 30 days, but restaurants can still provide pick-up, drive-through or delivery services.
Because of the impact, unemployment claims in Washington for the week ending March 13 saw a 116 percent increase over the prior week. There were more than 14,150 new filings, according to the state’s Employment Security Department.
That included a 597 percent increase in the accommodation and food services sector and a 569 percent jump in the education services sector.